Language Program Launches Web Site to Aid Deploying Troops
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 15, 2008 A Defense Department program that provides cultural and linguistic training to soon-to-deploy military personnel has activated a new Web site.
Launched this month, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center’s new online resource offers deploying servicemembers easier access to hundreds of linguistic materials, free of charge, according to a DLIFLC news release.
Language lessons can be viewed, downloaded, and ordered at www.dliflc.edu under the “Products” tab. Aspiring students must register and receive DLIFLC account approval before placing an order.
Among other curricula, the Web site offers Language Survival Kits: pocket-size booklets with audio CDs in more than 30 languages that outline common greetings, military commands, medical vocabulary and other useful phrases in the native tongue of the students’ destination.
The Monterey, Calif.-based language institute also offers new Headstart language DVD programs that use cutting-edge technology and computer animation to teach 80 hours of self-paced lessons and are designed to teach survival phrases in Iraqi Arabic and in Afghan Dari and Pashto, the release states.
The institute is a component of a comprehensive Defense Department language roadmap published in January 2005 and the National Security Language Initiative that President Bush proposed a year ago.
Gail H. McGinn, deputy undersecretary of defense for plans, oversees the Defense Department’s foreign-area officer program, a linguistics initiative that embeds cultural and linguistic specialists with military members in their region of expertise.
McGinn said language has a unique ability to connect U.S. operators with their foreign counterparts and local civilians.
“To be able to communicate with the people, to understand what they’re saying, to understand what they’re thinking, to understand what their habits are and the correct way to interact with people is incredibly important,” she said during an interview with American Forces Press Service in December.
The cooperation among federal agencies, Congress and the White House on linguistic initiatives underscores the increasingly prominent role language skills play in U.S. missions at home and abroad.
“Deficits in foreign language learning and teaching negatively affect our national security, diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence communities and cultural understanding,” a National Security Language Initiative fact sheet on the State Department Web site states.
“The NSLI will dramatically increase the number of Americans learning critical need foreign languages … through new and expanded programs from kindergarten through university and into the work force,” according to the fact sheet.